the journey back to happy, alternatively titled ‘the most self-indulgent post in the history of the world’



I haven’t a clue as to how my story will end. But that’s all right. When you set out on a journey and night covers the road, you don’t conclude that the road has vanished. And how else could we discover the stars?

~ Nancy Willard

The longest journey a man must take is the eighteen inches from his head to his heart.

~ Proverb

Yesterday, I needed something. Well, I needed a lot of things really, but the thing I needed more than any other was a reminder that Happy is a lot closer than it’s felt lately. That no matter how distant it may seem, it’s really, truly very close at hand.

It may well be buried under a toxic, steaming pile of Desperately Overwhelmed or weighed down by a big ole lump of Barely Keeping It Together, but nonetheless, it’s here. It’s right here.

And if I can widen my lens just the slightest bit, I know I’ll see it. Because it’s inside every single interaction – from the most mundane to the utterly sublime – with the people who I love more than anything in this world.

So I went to my computer and began looking at the photographs that we took with Kathleen. And I looked carefully. Really carefully.

I looked beyond the sun’s glowing light, out over the beach. and even, with a great deal of effort managed to pull my gaze past the breathtaking and ethereal beauty of my girls (sorry, but false modesty be damned; we’re talking about my kids) to see the real magic that Kathleen had captured in those photos.

And I saw that if you really look carefully, there’s one thing that you can’t miss in every single picture that she took.















Do you see it?

The one thing that Kathleen captured in every single image?


A love so strong that it makes everything else possible.

Even – no, especially – the journey back to the JOY that is so obvious in those very same pictures.

Thank you, Kathleen. A million times, thank you.



Photos by Kathleen Connerton



All images are the exclusive property of Connerton Photography and Diary of a Mom and are protected under the United States and International Copyright laws.

The images may not be reproduced, copied, transmitted or manipulated without the written permission of Jess at Diary of a Mom.

In other words, keep your mitts off my pics. 

© 2008 – present Diary of a Mom.


Ed Note: Just to be clear, I do not receive nor have I received any kind of promotional consideration from Kathleen, Connerton Photography nor anyone else – ever. I’m not saying I’m not open to it (Jimmy Choo, I’m lookin’ at you) but it’s just not what Diary is about. 

29 thoughts on “the journey back to happy, alternatively titled ‘the most self-indulgent post in the history of the world’

  1. These are beautiful photographs because they are so natural….the love and joy just grabs you. As a bit of a photographer myself, I respect how Kathleen captured the essence of your family. These will be treasured forever and bring a smile whenever you look at them. You will always remember that day together. That is what I love the most about photos, freezing that moment in time.

  2. An awesome step – realizing you are happy, you just need to see past the crappity crap that most of here also need to see past (me being the biggest ‘half empty’ kind of gal!). Good luck and hugs!!

  3. Yup. (Remember what it took to get you to her though–it was only because of that traumatic experience with the prior photographer. If the other one had been ‘acceptable’ then you would not have bothered to find Kathleen and have these taken….)

  4. what Mo said is so true. Think of where you were when Kathleen contacted you and where she brought you after her session. You can see the light at the end of the tunnel in these pictures. It’s coming again.

  5. It is truly amazing to have captured the love. I know how elusive it is. My son freezes up at the sight of a camera these days – too many bad experiences with FLASHes. Dang flash cameras. Too much freezing about another person. So I LOVE that you can see her, really see her connecting with you guys. ((love that)).

  6. When I started looking through these, I knew LOVE was what you had to have been talking about. I saw it in every picture and kept thinking “She has one of the.most beautiful families I’ve ever seen”

  7. I see love…and family…and 4 people who have each other no matter what. So glad you were able to find the beauty and joy…and most of all, hope.

  8. My Uncle Mike’s signature comment in good times & bad was “It’s all about the love” …and it is. What’s better than love? The way I see it, love makes the world go ’round. It’s easy to that that… When you take a minute to slow down an look for it… I feel like the luckiest woman on earth to capture this beautiful gift professionally. Jess, it was such An honor to capture you and your beautiful, wonderful, joyful, sweet, loving family on the beach last summer. It brings me great joy to know that these images fill your heart with happiness. That’s the greatest reward my work brings to me. Xo

  9. i’m thinkin the answer’s IN the journey. put the pebble in your shoe. call it “Dare”. we’ll watch you walk and walk…

  10. Oh I so needed that. It’s true. The happiness and love is always there no matter how far away it can seem at times. We do have to remember that.

  11. Absolutely beautiful pictures! I love the way Brooke is looking up at you in the second one.
    I have to THANK YOU for what you give me on a daily basis. You are an amazing writer, mother and advocate!! Pretty much every day I find myself tearing up at the words you have written, how they speak to my soul and somehow put into beautiful words what lies in my heart. I hope and pray you find your way back and the answers you seek for Brooke, it isn’t easy (that road is familiar to me after 17 years – but somehow there are always new detours to navigate).
    The love is always there and it constantly surprises me how sustaining that can be in the darkest times. It seems just when you think things are bleak, your child will do something that amazes you and gives you so much joy and pride (like your trip to New York and like my son’s recent accomplishment of going through an entire teeth cleaning and check up with no sedation for the first time in his life!!)
    Thank you again for putting into eloquent words what so many of us feel. You are an inspiration!!

  12. Yup… I see it… It’s right there… In every. Single. Picture. And it must be contagious because it spreads like wildfire and anyone who looks at them cannot help but love you guys too! *LOVE*

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